A New Year, a new you–as they say! One that reads something other than the nutrition label on the vintage box of Barbie WildBerry Printed Fun Pop-Tarts. Maybe this month you read a CVS receipt from beginning to end, you crazy overachiever, you. Perhaps next time something shorter like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell?
I’ve been reading The Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski, main because I was interested in the Netflix adaptation. Before the series, I read the two books of stories (The Sword of Destiny and The Last Wish) which comprise the (complicated, multiple) timelines for the first season of the series.
Like the show, the stories–the first published in 1986–jump all over the place, covering an indeterminate amount of time in main character’s poorly-delineated long lifespan. After watching the series, which I was fairly happy with, I pushed on to the main sequence of novels (Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow and The Lady of the Lake) that settles the time jumps down into the story of Geralt of Rivia and his surrogate child, Ciri. (The last book, Season of Storms, is a prequel set after the first story, “The Witcher,” but before “The Last Wish”–the 11th story written, but the second story of the internal chronology… confused yet?)
I enjoyed the books and the basic story was engaging. But Sapkowski employs a narrative style many people probably would find odd and frustrating, a sort of literary edging where the set-up is rarely followed by a direct pay-off.
For example (and I’ll be vague to not spoil) he spends the majority of a novel getting a main character and the people pursuing them into place for a climactic battle… and then smash cuts to four weeks later, the hero healing, and then teasing out the story of the fight over a 100 pages of the hero telling a completely new character what happened through a haze of pain, avoidance, and PTSD.
And Sapkowski does this over and over again. The deliberate distancing of the narrative from the story is exasperating at times. As another example, the entirety of the last novel is told from a flash-forward to a time when the story of Geralt is considered a fairy tale and a witch is using backwards oneiromancy to uncover the real history and the dreams are told as flashbacks that often contain flashbacks and flashforwards internally. While it is easy to follow along and not just bad writing, all this ends up padding out a trilogy to a pentalogy for no real reason except money. (And maybe with good cause.)
Patricia Cornwell – Quantum (A Captain Chase Novel). I don’t really know how I feel about this novel. I was mostly reading it at 3am when I couldn’t sleep in a different time zone, but the writing still felt unpleasantly and intentionally disjointed to mimic the mindset of the main character. If I had to do an elevator pitch I’d say “Bones, but at NASA.” The book is clearly setting up an arc which could be fun, but I doubt I’ll pick up the next book to find out.
Lee Goldberg – Lost Hills. So this novel had a better cadence than Quantum. A gutsy young police officer who goes viral gets bumped up the ranks to gin up good PR for the LA Sheriff’s Department to deflect from mounting scandal much to the resentment of her peers. I’m sure you can guess that she eventually proves herself. I appreciated that the twist wasn’t the one I assumed the author would lazily go with. In the Kindle edition there’s a typo where an LA local plumbing company gets name-checked for real instead of the fictitious version of it which was otherwise used.
Charlie N. Holmberg – Smoke and Summons (Numina Book 1). Out of all of the reading I did this month, I think this is the one I’d most likely continue. Homberg seems to be making a career out of quirky magical systems (she also wrote The Paper Magician) that feel fresh in a post-Tolkein world. S&S leaned a little heavily on teenage relationship angst to space out the action, but only enough that I’m pausing before moving on to the next book rather than diving right in.
Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhaur – The Mask Collectors. A dowdy professor and a repressed scientist get caught up in a scandal related to pharmaceutical research, magical rituals and the placebo effect…it’s less weird than it sounds and more fun.
Πέρασα τον τελευταίο μήνα μαθαίνοντας Αρχαία Ελληνικά γιατί άκουσα ότι υπήρχε κάποια Υψηλή λεσβιακή ερωτική ποίηση. Δυστυχώς, όλα ήταν αρκετά ωραίο από τα πρότυπα redtube και έχω παραιτηθεί από αυτή την επιδίωξη υπέρ της ενίσχυσης των γρήγορων μυϊκών σπασμών του δεξιού καρπού μου. Also Playboy, but not for the articles.
I did indeed read something. I read How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Control. It is a satirical take on conservative arguments on various issues. Of course it focuses on how one would do that if one’s entire social circle is comprised entirely of cats. I acquired it over Christmas along with the gift of a rocks glass with a .30 caliber round artfully placed.
The jury is still out on whether or not I should have busted this out at an archery range in the middle of hunting season, while waiting for an open lane.